On our last night in Haiti, with disturbing images filling our heads, the group decided not to go out for dinner but instead to eat at the hotel and have a discussion on how to come up with a plan that would truly make a difference in the life of the Haitian people.
The old adage that opened our meeting was “How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One piece at a time” put our discussions into perspective. The group was focused on the goal of truly making a difference in the day to day lives of the Haitian people. We did not want to offer a “band-aid approach” of support – but rather develop a sustainable plan for a better future. While there was some disagreement around the table on the best way to proceed, there was absolutely no debate on the conclusion that we must try and help the people of Haiti.
Two and one half hours later we came up with several conclusions: 1. The largest asset of Haiti is the Haitian people;
2. We need to devise a plan that will invest in the Haitian people and help educate them on the true health related issues of their pest problems so that any plan will be sustainable over time;
3. We need to work directly with the pest management professionals that are still in business on the Island to address pest issues; and
4. We should focus our efforts on hospitals and schools.
One of the delegates said it all when he reminded us of the parable that if you give the people a fish they would have enough to eat for dinner; however, if you teach them to fish they would have food for the rest of their lives. We decided we wanted to teach the Haitian people and help train the pest management professionals in Haiti “how to fish”.
We decided to develop a “Scope of Work Plan” to address pest concerns in hospitals and schools. That scope of work will include the following: grounds/landscape management; refuge management; exclusion (cockroaches, rodents, flies, mosquitoes); construction related issues (screens on windows, elimination of holes and cracks in the walls and doors); water management/drainage; food storage, bed netting; and aggressive educational outreach to administrators. This scope will be provided to pest management firms in Haiti and firms will be hired, through NPMA, to address priority hospitals/schools. A team of NPMA members will be asked to oversee the work and ensure that the actual work in the field meets the level of standards expected here in the United States. Additionally, teams of NPMA members will be assembled to travel to Haiti and provide education and training to the pest management professionals providing the service. Our goal is to leave behind a program that will be effective, survive the test of time and create a better, stronger pest management industry than we found when we first arrived. We decided to invest directly in the Haitian people, create jobs, and support our member companies in Haiti.
Now the hard part. Our goal as an industry is to raise at least $250,000 that will be used to hire member companies in Haiti to provide the services outlined above.
The one thing we know is that the Haitian people deserve a better way of life and while small in scope, the members of the NPMA can make a huge difference and truly help save of the lives of people who do not have the resources to help themselves.
Please watch for more information in the coming weeks about our trip and perhaps more importantly, how you can help us in achieving our goal to help the people of Haiti “learn to fish.” Our goal is lofty – but in reaching it, we will help tremendously in the protection of public health.